Nobody in the vacation rental business wants to own or manage a tired, boring and mediocre vacation rental.
After all, you put a lot of work into your vacation home stay. You read the latest vacation rental marketing advice and get lots of great tips on the latest booking systems, building a dedicated website, being a responsive and pro-active host, designing incentives for guests to book again.
But still. You can’t help wondering if you have a solid chance of getting anyone to really take note of your vacation rental retreat, let alone book it.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a huge amount of respect for great vacation rental marketing advice and I think you should be trying out all the latest techniques for attracting new guests, but don’t ignore the equally compelling evidence that generically decorated vacation rentals don’t get many clicks, even if you are a marketing genius. Mediocre décor begets mediocre bookings. There is no getting around that.
So ask yourself this: What makes your vacation rental aesthetically different from the thousands of other vacation rentals vying for bookings?
Most vacation rentals differ little from each other in design. The same stone countertops, the same big box store cabinets, the generic beige sofa, the framed poster, the polyester filled quilt bought at Costco, matching furniture sets – you know, the usual.
But nobody is inspired by these generic holiday rentals. Potential guests are sick of mind-numbingly boring vacation rentals that all look the same, and they scan through listing after listing like a box of popcorn. If you’re not offering anything that makes them stop in their tracks and sigh with desire, why should they hang around? Time is precious.
The problem is, you don’t really know how to create an extraordinary vacation home stay.
Most of the time, you feel a little overwhelmed. What type of towels should you buy, how should you configure the furniture in the living room? You can’t tell what looks good and what doesn’t. It feels like a huge, endless guessing game.
I started One Chic Retreat to address these issues, but in this article, I’m not going to tell you what to do. At least not in this post.
Instead I’m going to tell you what NOT to do. And then give you a simple way to correct it.
Sometimes you can’t understand what to do until you first understand what NOT to do. So, let’s start there.
Here’s the list of the top three design mistakes to avoid so you don’t end up in the all too common category of Mediocre and Tired Vacation Rental. How many are you guilty of?
Alright, let’s dive in….
1. The Granny Bedspread – Flowery or Patchwork Bed Linens
Most people love their grandmothers. I certainly do, but I certainly don’t want her translated into a bedspread. There is just nothing right about Granny in the bedroom. On vacation. You get my gist, right?
If you have one of these, please get rid of it as soon as you finish reading this blog post. If you are strangely attached to it, fold it away in your closet and only take it out for your own use. If you don’t adore it to pieces, donate it to a worthy homeless shelter.
If you’re wondering why you don’t get enough bookings and you have a Granny Bedspread, this could be the big, fat reason.
For a vivid illustration of what I’m talking about, scroll down and take a good look. These photos don’t have any links because I don’t want to embarrass anyone but believe me; they all come from real vacation rentals. Sadly, it took me less than 5 minutes to spot these; hundreds of vacation rentals have made this mistake.
Hundreds and hundreds.
Are you starting to catch on? I certainly hope so because way, way too many home stays are guilty of The Granny Bedspread.
How to Fix It
1. Get a bedspread or duvet (I personally favor duvets) made of natural fibers – linen, cotton, or even wool (in cold climates).
2. Pair it with simple white sheets,
3. Drape a gorgeous throw or blanket at the bottom,
4. Add a few chic shams at the top.
5. Then read this post for creating a romantic bedroom, to make it even better.
You’re done. End of problem.
Look at the photos below for inspiration.
2. The Camel – otherwise known as the Ungainly “Brownish-Tannish” Couch
Let me guess. The typical reasoning behind buying a big, brownish-tannish couch is it’s ample enough to fit a bunch of guests; its color, being nondescript, will go with everything else in the room. You assume that because the color is neutral, everyone will like it, or at least not hate it. It’s tannish-brownish color and fabric – typically polyester something – will last many years, cutting down on upholstering later. And if it’s big and chunky, it’s comfortable, right?
Wrong! In so many, many ways.
Before I explain why let me ask you something.
Would you put a camel in your living room?
After all, the reasoning is much the same. A camel is tannish-brownish so it goes with everything, it lives for a very long time, and it can carry heavy loads, including people. It’s low-maintenance. Practical. You can even dress it up a bit with interesting blankets and cushions, right?
How can that remotely be the same, you say? Who in their right mind would bring a camel into a vacation retreat? Aside from the inconveniences of having a live (pooping) animal in your midst, it’s ugly.
And they even spit!
Well, I hate to break it to you but your beige, lumpy couch is equally unbecoming. It’s ugly and equally out of place in your vacation rental.
Let’s call it a Camel Couch for convenience sake, shall we?
Camel couches look shoddy, like you haven’t put much thought into furnishings. Their surface feels like cheap motel fabric, as if you bought it at the cheapest discount Furniture Warehouse (and admit it, you probably did). They are lumpy, ungainly and dowdy. The color is boring too.
If it’s an L-shape, even worse. The L-shaped couch, invented to fit more people into the sitting area, rarely works. The exceptions are the really expensive Italian designed ones, who have mastered the L-shape, but then again, they are REALLY EXPENSIVE. And we don’t want to spend obscene amounts of money in a vacation rental (we just want it to look like we did).
So what’s the solution?
Get rid of it!
Camel Couches are money losers. Potential guests take one look and run to the next listing. Literally!
Another lost booking. In the wink of an eye.
How to Fix It
Get a shapely, sexy ‘sofa’ (notice I say “sofa,” which is a much more appealing word and applies to the much more appealing piece of furniture), gorgeous in its own right. A sofa is able to stand alone and still be eye-stopping.
Start by thinking of the most elegant and stunning person you know, and then translate them into a sofa, or imagine a movie star, a woman like Cate Blanchett, or Naomi Campbell, or a man like Daniel Craig or Sean Connery. They are unique, elegant and confident. If they magically transformed into a sofa, what would they look like?
Got your image?
Now put that in your vacation rental.
A sofa can be neutral, but it’s neutral in a stunning way. A dark inky denim, deep chocolate brown or a well-heeled khaki color work perfectly.
Here are some inspiring sofas in some equally inspiring vacation homes. Look and learn….
3. The Wallflower – Otherwise Known as the Ugly Plastic or Faux Wood TV Stand
You probably know that having a great television in your vacation rental will please guests, right? It’s one of the checklist items the big listing sites will tell you to have to attract guests. Even better? Include a gaming system with dish or cable, with every channel imaginable, and you’re styling?
Good move. Doing so has been proven to attract bookings.
Have you ever really considered what the television set-up should look like?
If not, I worry about your chances of getting potential guests to linger on your listing.
Too few vacation rental owners use design strategy in setting up their television entertainment; the misconception starts with assuming that because you have a flat screen television with all accompanying wonder – gaming equipment, DVD player, Apple TV – you will automatically get more bookings.
So along with the nice flat screen television, you also buy the cheap plastic black stand (why is it always black?!) with the shelves below, place your TV on top, make sure it’s included in a photo, and list all its bells and whistles and you’re done.
Why? Because presenting your uber-cool television on a cheap plastic or fake wood stand is actually doing the reverse of what you want it to. Without meaning to, you have created a Wallflower.
And Wallflowers repel guests, not attract them.
Refresh your memory of what a wallflower is. According to Wikipedia…
In social situations, a wallflower is a shy or unpopular individual who doesn’t socialize or participate in activities at social events. He or she may have other talents but usually does not express them in the presence of other individuals. The term comes from the image of a person isolating themselves from areas of social activities at ballroom dances and parties where the people who did not wish to dance (or had no partner) remained close to the walls of the dance hall.
You get the gist, right? Your television set-up may have everything a die-hard couch potato guest could ever dream of, but who’s going to notice if it’s standing there alone, ugly in the corner? Who’s going to care?
Take a glance at the photo below to see what I’m talking about.
You just lost another booking.
How to Fix It
Sheath your television and it’s accouterments chic-ly and you will get a lot more clicks. Try putting it in an armoire or perched in the middle of a bookshelf. Mount it above the mantel. Even more simple, find a gorgeous trunk or console table and put it on that. It will pay off.
Here are several examples…
Inspired? Good! Now your guests will really notice your television and actually be excited about the movies and the cable and the gaming! See? Not so hard.
To Wrap it Up
After reading these booking-killing design mistakes, you might feel a little discouraged and say to yourself, “Wow! I am guilty of all of these or at least one of them. I’ve really messed up. Where should I begin?”
I would say in order of importance: get rid of the Granny Bedspread followed by the Wallflower TV setup and lastly, either donate or reinvent your Camel Sofa.
And then pat yourself on the back that you no longer have just another boring vacation rental that no one wants to book! You have started the journey of having a really chic, bookings-magnet of a vacation home stay.
Anything I missed? Post below and tell me about it. I learn a ton from my readers and welcome your feedback! So comment away!
Oh! And I’d love it if you share this message, so press one of the little social media buttons and have a great day!